It's time to take care of your tires when the low tire pressure warning light goes on in your vehicle, or you see the tires looking underinflated. Tires need to be correctly inflated for safety purposes, as well as for good car maintenance.
Fixing low tire pressure is simple, low cost, and will not take you long to do.
Proper tire pressure is a must!
Quick Questions Before Starting
If you’ve never fixed low tire pressure before, don’t worry! It’s a simple process that anyone can learn.
How Difficult is This to Complete?
Fixing low tire pressure is not a complicated thing to do, but it is an important part of car maintenance.
How Long Does it Take to Complete?
It is a simple process that only takes a few minutes of your time to complete.
How Much Do Materials Cost?
Costs are minimal and sometimes free, depending on how you approach the fix. It can cost anywhere from $0- $30.
Signs of Low Tire Pressure
Low tire pressure is not always noticeable until it becomes extreme. Checking the pressure with a tire gauge should be part of your usual vehicle maintenance. However, if tire pressure is not monitored and reaches a critical low-level then negative things may happen. These are things a driver should be aware of that are signaling the tire pressure is below optimal:
- Fuel Economy becomes less than optimum
- When the vehicle is in motion, there are unusual noises from the tire area, such as flapping or repeated 'whomp' sounds (these are generally for actual flat tires, not those simply a little low on air)
- Change in drivability and ability to maneuver is noticeable
- Stopping distance becomes longer
Steps to Fixing Low Tire Pressure
Checking the air pressure on your tires is important when you see signs of low tire pressure or warning light on your dashboard. You need to use a tire gauge to see if they are low and if so, by how much. Once you have assessed that low tire pressure is present, fixing the issue should be a priority.
It is important to note that underinflated does not mean flat. You can not drive with a flat tire. Doing this will not only damage the tire but the rim as well and can be costly to repair. If the tire is flat, you must change it before driving. If low pressure is the issue, then you need to follow these steps to address it and get your car back on the road:
1. Head to the Gas Station
If the tire is not flat, it is time to go to the closest gas station. You don’t want to drive extensively on an underinflated tire as it can do damage if done for a prolonged period. Head to your closest station with some change in your pocket and a tire gauge.
2. Park Near the Air Dispenser
Make sure to park your vehicle in a way that all four tires are accessible. You want to access the air hose without having to move the vehicle. You don’t want to have to move it to reach the farthest tire or be reaching over the top of your car.
3. Remove the Cap
You need to take off the cap from the valve stem of the tire. The valve stem is the part that sticks up and out of the tire itself. The cap is threaded so turn it until it comes off and put it somewhere safe. These caps often get misplaced, so don’t be surprised if one or more are missing. Get replacement caps to keep the valve stem safe and free from debris.
4. Measure the Tire Pressure
Recheck the tire pressure with your gauge. Use your own as the ones attached to the air hoses are rarely accurate. Place the gauge on the valve stem, press down, and measure the pressure. You will notice that driving the vehicle probably increased the pressure as the tires will heat up and expand. You may have a slow leak if the pressure did not increase. When you fill the tire, go with the measurement you took when the tires were cold to ensure that they do not get overinflated.
5. Fill the Tire
Put your coins in the machine with the air hose as required. You will hear the compressor start, and you can put the air hose on the valve stem. Push gently and use short pushes of air. You do not want to fill the tire too much at once as it can overinflate the tire. Each time you stop, go back and check the tire pressure with your gauge. If it's still low, repeat the filling action.
You can let some of the air out of the tire if you overinflate. Do this by pressing the pin that sits in the middle of the tire valve stem. You can use the end of the air hose nozzle to do this or the small knob found on the round part of your tire gauge.
P.S. - Dont forget to put the caps back on the valve stems!
Why You Should Never Ignore Low Tire Pressure
Ignoring low tire pressure is hard on your vehicle and can also be a safety issue. It will not only reduce the vehicle's fuel economy but can do damage to the tire and the rim. Low tire pressure is also a danger when driving as it can affect the way the vehicle handles. It can affect the ease of steering and cause a pull when moving in a straight line. The vehicle could sway more through turns as well.
Low tire pressure can also affect a change in vehicle stopping distance. You can be caught off guard when it doesn’t stop in its usual manner. Underinflation affects the tire grip, thus changing how the vehicle reacts to braking.
Tips and Safety Considerations When Inflating Tires
Inflating tires on a vehicle is not complicated, but keep some basic rules in mind:
- Make sure the area around the tire is clean of debris. If you press the air hose trigger when it isn’t on the tire, it can blow small pieces of debris up. It can also blow small particles into the valve stem area causing it to jam and making inflating the tire difficult.
- Do not overinflate the tire. This step is crucial, especially with older tires. If any part of the tire is weak, extreme overinflation can cause the tire to fail. If that happens, injury can happen to anyone nearby. Pay attention to what you are doing. Do not use prolonged pulls on the air hose and check the tire pressure each time you break from filling the tire. These steps will ensure the pressure does not go above the required PSI. Make sure you keep the tire in the proper pressure range to avoid dangerous issues.
- Don’t lean over the valve while filling. Staying away from the tire makes sure that a slip of the hose off the valve won’t injure you. You need to reach the tire but sit back so you are not hovering right over it. Maintaining this distance will keep any air and debris from getting close to your face should the hose come off.
When you think you have low tire pressure, don’t wait too long to check it. The sooner you can see what the pressure is at and fix it the better it is for your vehicle and your safety. Fixing tire pressure is easy to do if you go step by step. Use your tire gauge, add air carefully, re-check, and drive when the pressures are correct.
People Also Ask
If we haven’t answered everything you need to know, you may find your answers below:
Can You Drive with Low Tire Pressure?
You can drive with low tire pressure, but it is not encouraged. It can be dangerous and hard on your vehicle. If you must, then be cautious and fix or replace the tire as soon as you are able.
How Much Does It Cost to Fix Low Tire Pressure?
It's not expensive if you are simply reinflating the tire. It only costs a few dollars to use a gas station's air hose. If you need to buy a tire gauge or replace the tire, then that is more costly.
What Tire Pressure is Too Low?
Whether tire pressure is too low depends on the make of the vehicle. To find out what is too low, look at the sticker on the inside of the door jam on the driver's side. You can also find it in your owner's manual. Usually, anything below 30PSI is not ok.
Why is My Tire Pressure Light on When My Tires are Fine?
There are a few reasons for this. If the tires are cold, the pressure is lower and the tire pressure sensor will pick up on it. The low tire pressure light should go off once you are on the road and the tires warm up. The sensor could also be faulty, or you may have a slow leak, so the tire is not holding the air pressure as it should, meaning you should assess the tire then repair or replace it.